3-A East semifinals: Rocky Mount defense shackles Saints' offense
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on November 25, 2007 2:02 AM
ROCKY MOUNT -- History repeated itself -- with an added boost.
Minutes before kickoff Friday evening, legendary prep football coach Herman Boone of "Remember the Titans" fame sauntered into the Rocky Mount dressing room. He delivered a heart-felt, stirring speech and encouraged the Gryphons to leave everything on the field.
Rocky Mount's defense shackled Southern Wayne's running game early and cruised to a 35-8 victory at Gryphon Stadium. With the win, the No. 2-ranked Gryphons (14-0 overall) advanced to the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A (small school) eastern regional final for the second time in the last three years.
The Saints concluded the year 9-5.
"Their defense did a great job all game long," said Southern Wayne head coach Bob Warren. "They presented not just size and strength, but athleticism. We kept making some things happen here and there, but they would break up a play.
"It was tough to be consistent all night long, but I give our kids credit because they kept plugging away."
Southern Wayne quarterback Jordan Williams managed the offense well. The Gryphon defense, however, constantly closed the gaps and prevented the Saints from gaining any significant yardage.
Senior Kelvin Flow concluded his career with a 113-yard effort and surpassed the 2,000-yard mark for the season. His 4-yard touchdown plunge in the fourth quarter denied Rocky Mount a third consecutive shutout in the playoffs.
However, the Gryphons smothered the Saints' all evening and prevented speedy halfback Tristan Bass from breaking free into the secondary. Southern Wayne accumulated just 149 yards of total offense -- all on the ground.
"When the bucksweep is not going real well, it takes away from some of the other plays (we use)," said Warren. "I credit their defense for playing superb."
Rocky Mount's offense wasn't too shabby, either.
Sophomore Marquavis Alston turned in his third straight three-touchdown performance in the postseason. The 5-foot-9, 160-pound halfback rambled for first-half scores on runs of 20, 3 and 2 yards, and finished with 74 yards rushing on 13 totes.
Quarterback Chris Berry and freshman T.J. Marshall, a transfer from Miami, provided one touchdown apiece. The Gryphons accumulated 438 yards of total offense on 51 plays and claimed their 15th consecutive win at home.
Despite the season-ending loss, not a single Southern Wayne player exited the locker room disappointed. The Saints recovered from an 0-3 start to win a program-best nine games during Warren's tenure as coach. They ran the table in Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference play and claimed just their third league title in three-plus decades.
"This bunch has played well all year long and just kept putting things together (each week)," said Warren. "This team was very, very special. It's one of those teams where everybody loved to play and played right up until the end tonight."
Even if history repeated itself.
Southern Wayne 0 0 0 8 -- 8
Rocky Mount 7 14 7 7 -- 35
RM -- Alston 20 run (Hahula kick), 1:43
RM -- Alston 3 run (kick blocked), 11:38
RM -- Alston 2 run (Bunn run), 0:39.8
RM -- Berry 1 run (Hahula kick), 0:00
SW -- Flow 4 run (Flow run), 5:36
RM -- Marshall 6 run (Hahula kick), 1:42
So. Wayne RM
First downs 10 22
Rushes-yds 43-149 46-357
Passing yds 0 81
Total yards 149 438
C-A-I 0-5-0 4-5-0
Fumbles-lost 2-2 2-2
Penalties-yds 5-15 4-33
RUSHING -- Southern Wayne -- Kelvin Flow 24-113, TD; Tristan Bass 18-36; James Jones 1-0. Rocky Mount -- T.J. Marshall 9-93, TD; Nick Hahula 7-77; Marquavis Alston 13-74, 3 TDs; Chris Berry 4-50, TD; Derek Hagans 7-38; Hiawatha Bunn 4-28; Jordan Ford 1-(-1); Team 2-(-2).
\ Jordan Williams 0-5-0 0. Rocky Mount -- Chris Berry 3-4-0 65; Bunn 1-1-0 16.
RECEIVING -- Rocky Mount -- Keith Strickland 4-79; Jacobi Jenkins 1-2.
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